Food! · Graphic Novel · Julia P · Memoir · Non-Fiction · Quick Read!

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen | by Lucy Knisley

Relish

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
(First Second, 2013, 176 pages)

I love graphic novels and I love food, so Relish was a win for me 🙂 This graphic memoir recounts Knisley’s life growing up around food. Her mother is a chef/caterer and her dad is a food-lover who knows how to appreciate the finer things. Knisley grew up in New York City and then moved to upstate New York with her mother after her parents divorced. Exposed to foods at a young age that most people are scared to try even as adults, Knisley definitely had a unique upbringing. This memoir is broken down into key moments of her life and how they correlated with food. Graphic recipes are also included, which I loved.

This book was successful in that it made me want to be friends with the author, it made me want to cook, and it made me curious to try some of the new things she mentioned. If you like food and/or graphic novels, you’ll appreciate Knisley’s story and her artistry.

Fiction · In the Library · Jean R · Mystery · Quick Read!

Gypped | by Carol Higgins Clark

Gypped

Gypped by Carol Higgins Clark
(Scribner, 2012, 224 pages)

Gypped is the fifteenth novel in the Regan Reilly Mystery series by Carol Higgins Clark. In this novel, Regan Reilly and her husband, Jack, take a trip from their home in New York to Jack’s conference in California. While in California, Regan runs into Zelda, an acquaintance from seven years earlier when the two of them appeared on a game show together. Neither Regan nor Zelda won the big prize on the game show, but Zelda has since struck it rich when her neighbor died and left her eight million dollars. When Regan and Zelda sit down to chat about their lives, Zelda quickly becomes ill. Is it food poisoning or is someone out to get Zelda and her money?

Gypped is a quick, short, read-in-one-sitting novel. The plot’s not new, but the dialogue is witty and the characters are fun. This is a good book to read in a waiting room or on vacation. I recommend it for anyone looking for some light reading.

Award Winner · Fiction · History · Julia P · Page-Turner · Young Adult

In Darkness | by Nick Lake

In DarknessIn Darkness by Nick Lake
(Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2012, 352 pages)

I thought In Darkness was such a great read. This Printz Award winner didn’t start out in a way that really caught my attention, but after a few pages I found myself sucked in. I just wanted to keep reading and see where the story was going to go. Set in Haiti we are introduced to Shorty who has been buried in/under a hospital after the earthquake hit in 2010. While he recounts what led to him being where he is his story somehow becomes intertwined with the historical figure, Toussaint L’Ouverture. Both men are somehow connected to one another across time and space.

Shorty’s experiences are painful to read about (both what it’s like being buried in a hospital with no food or water and what his life was like growing up) but I thought Lake did a really good job conveying the reality of what life is like in Haiti because it’s rarely considered or discussed. One of my big takeaways from this book was the desire to learn more – a great sign from a work of historical fiction. I wanted to know more about Haiti’s history, specifically the life of Toussaint L’Ouverture whose name and basic story I knew, but who’s biography I’d never really felt compelled to delve into. Also, I’ve always had an interest in religion and I appreciated the way Lake treated vodou in this text. It’s a really interesting religion that people too often classify based on misunderstandings and false information. I definitely recommend looking into it – I find it fascinating.

I really enjoyed this book and I’d certainly recommend it.

Classic · Fiction · In the Library · Juvenile · Magic · Page-Turner · Quick Read! · Theresa F

Harry Potter Series: Books 1 – 3 | by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter 1-3Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
(Scholastic, 1999, 320 pages)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
(Scholastic, 2000, 341 pages)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
(Scholastic, 2001, 435 pages)

I decided to reread all the Harry Potter books this summer and I have sped through the first three in record time.  It really is amazing what J.K. Rowling accomplished with these books; the plot is so tight, when you reread them you can see how thought out the story was from the very beginning.  I’m catching things I didn’t the first time around and things I forgot about because they weren’t included in the movies.  It’s been lot of fun so far!

You can check out Julia and Sadie‘s reviews of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

You can also see Julia’s reviews of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Classic · Fiction · In the Library · Juvenile · Magic · Sadie J

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone | by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
(Scholastic, 1999, 320 pages)

Harry Potter has been living a miserable life with the Dursley’s ever since his parents died when he was just one year old. But Harry is surprised when he finds out that he is not only a wizard, but a famous wizard who took down Voldemort, the most powerful dark wizard in history. Now Harry must find his way through this magical world and adjust to this new fame and talent. As Harry’s first school year goes on, he makes friends with Ron and Hermoine and discovers a secret plan that the trio must stop before Voldemort rises again.

My sister reread the Harry Potter series a few months ago and I was completely jealous of how much fun she kept saying it was. So like any normal little sister, I’m copying her idea. I was lucky to have literally grown up with Harry Potter as my mom gave me the first Harry Potter book when I was in elementary school. So as the series is responsible for creating my first reading obsession, I could never say anything negative about it. I just enjoy reading them too much. I will say that it’s amazing how you notice little things in the first book that become pivotal parts of Harry’s story later on. As many times as I’ve read the first book in the series, I always think I notice something new each time.

You can also check out Julia’s review, here.

Fiction · Romance · Sadie J · Young Adult

The Fault in Our Stars | by John Green

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
(Dutton Juvenile, 2012, 336 pages)

Hazel has never been anything but terminal when she received her cancer diagnosis. So she draws back from society to spare anyone from pain whenever her cancer turns from bad to worse. She wasn’t planning on meeting Augustus who drew her back into the world and away from her America’s Next Top Model marathons. Augustus is a cancer survivor who is striving to leave his mark on the world and to convince Hazel she is anything but a grenade. The story of their relationship is honest and nothing more than heart breaking.

I have been wanting to read this book for a while. In fact someone in my romance class read it and I had to mute my computer in case she gave away any spoilers during her review. When dealing with a story where several characters have cancer diagnosis the end is inevitable, but the story still surprised me with how it played out. I love the charisma between Hazel and Augustus and how witty their conversations are. I definitely found it to be a true teen romance with a devastating twist but well worth the read.

You can also read Julia’s review here.

Fiction · Jean R · Medicine · Mystery · Thriller

The Bone Bed | by Patricia Cornwell

The Bone BedThe Bone Bed by Patricia Cornwell
(Putnam Adult, 2012, 480 pages)

The Bone Bed (A Scarpetta Novel) by Patricia Cornwell begins with Chief Medical Examiner, Kay Scarpetta, receiving what appears to be a picture of a severed ear. The ear may be the ear of a woman who disappeared while digging in a dinosaur bed in rural Canada. Before Dr. Scarpetta can solve that mystery, more mystery comes her way. Scarpetta helps pull a body out of the water. It is a woman who is badly decomposed, but did not die from drowning. The cause of death seems almost impossible to determine. Then, there is a case of third woman who disappeared and is presumed dead, but her body has not been found. As you might expect, these three cases are all related.

In The Bone Bed, Cornwell brings back a side of Scarpetta that we have not seen in the past several novels. Cornwell shows Scarpetta as more human in this novel. We see Scarpetta interact with her husband, Benton, her niece, Lucy, and her investigator, Marino. We see Scarpetta cooking and showing her emotional side.

The Bone Bed is the twentieth Scarpetta medical thriller. I like the way that Cornwell integrates the three separate murders to finally conclude that there is a serial killer on the loose. If you are a Patricia Cornwell fan or a medical thriller fan, I recommend The Bone Bed.

Fiction · Julia P

Seating Arrangements | by Maggie Shipstead

Seating ArrangementsSeating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
(Knopf, 2012, 320 pages)

Seating Arrangements follows the Van Meter family over the course of the wedding weekend for Daphne, the oldest daughter in the family. Each family member is dealing with their own issues in their New England summer home on the island of Waskeke. Daphne is walking down the aisle sooner than she thought thanks to an unplanned pregnancy. Livia is recovering from the traumatic breakup of her first love, who also happens to be the son of her father’s “friendly” rival. Winn, the family patriarch, just wants everything to go according to plan. He wants to get into the local (and exclusive) golf club and he wants to pretend he’s not pining for one of his daughter’s bridesmaids. Biddy, Winn’s wife, just wants the wedding to be a success… and to pretend that her husband isn’t blatantly lusting after a girl staying at their summer house.

The story revolves around families of the upper-class where societal expectations govern lives, even if the younger generation wants to break free. More than anything it seems we are exposed to Winn’s story and he certainly doesn’t come across as a sympathetic character. He lives his life by society standards and expects his family to do the same. The book is meant to be a social satire and while I enjoyed it overall, I just didn’t find myself invested in the way I thought I’d be. But just because it wasn’t my cup of tea doesn’t mean others won’t enjoy it – I think it would make for good travel/beach reading 🙂

Audiobook · Award Winner · Fiction · In the Library · Julia P · SCC Nook Book

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk | by Ben Fountain

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime WalkBilly Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
(Ecco, 2012, 320 pages)

Billy and the Bravo Squad are home on “break” after an intense exchange with Iraqi insurgents that just happened to be caught on film by Fox News. As a result of this highly viewed fight, the men of  Bravo Squad are seen as heroes and take a brief respite to tour around the U.S. in an attempt to recapture public support for the war. Billy spends the majority of his time trying not to dwell on the events that brought him back to America. He and the Bravos have certainly received a great deal of attention and they’re spending their Thanksgiving attending a Dallas Cowboys game and trying to mentally help their agent get the green light to make their experience in Iraq into a movie – they head back overseas at the end of the day.

Billy spends this Thanksgiving Day reflecting on the state of his country, his family, and his squad and trying to come to grips with his role in everything. He wants to fall in love, he wants the friends he lost to be back, he wants not to have to fight again, he wants his mother and sisters to be happy, he wants so many things… In Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk we experience what it feels like to be a soldier doing things and facing things that the average citizen can’t even hope to comprehend.

I liked this book more than I thought I would. The audiobook narrator was good, but I think it might have been better to have a younger person doing the narration since the story is told from the point of view of a 19-year-old. A good read – and we have it on our SCC Nooks! 😉

Fiction · Gwen B · In the Library · Mystery · Suspense

Daddy’s Gone A Hunting | by Mary Higgins Clark

Daddy's Gone A HuntingDaddy’s Gone A Hunting by Mary Higgins Clark
(Simon & Schuster, 2013, 338 pages)

Overview:

In her latest novel Mary Higgins Clark, the beloved, bestselling “Queen of Suspense,” exposes a dark secret from a family’s past that threatens the lives of two sisters, Kate and Hannah Connelly, when the family-owned furniture firm in Long Island City, founded by their grandfather and famous for its fine reproductions of antiques, explodes into flames in the middle of the night, leveling the buildings to the ground, including the museum where priceless antiques have been on permanent display for years.

The ashes reveal a startling and grisly discovery, and provoke a host of suspicions and questions. Was the explosion deliberately set? What was Kate—tall, gorgeous, blond, a CPA for one of the biggest accounting firms in the country, and sister of a rising fashion designer—doing in the museum when it burst into flames? Why was Gus, a retired and disgruntled craftsman, with her at that time of night? What if someone isn’t who he claims to be?

Now Gus is dead, and Kate lies in the hospital badly injured and in a coma, so neither can tell what drew them there, or what the tragedy may have to do with the hunt for a young woman missing for many years, nor can they warn that somebody may be covering his tracks, willing to kill to save himself . . .

Step by step, in a novel of dazzling suspense and excitement, Mary Higgins Clark once again demonstrates the mastery of her craft that has made her books international bestsellers for years. She presents the reader with a perplexing mystery, a puzzling question of identity, and a fascinating cast of characters—one of whom may just be a ruthless killer . . .

I’m a big fan of Mary Higgins Clark and was excited about reading her latest novel.  I have to say I was a little disappointed.  It was still readable and entertaining, but not with the depth or the just-can’t-put-it-down excitement of her earlier books. I found it hard keeping up with all the characters and trying to remember each one’s role.  Although, that could have something to do with my brain function, hehe!  It was still full of suspense and had me wanting to know what the outcome was going to be. If you are a fan of hers, you will still enjoy it. I will continue to read her books because I still think she’s a fantastic writer.